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Ellsworth School Board unanimously votes to certify proposed levy

The Ellsworth School Board unanimously voted to certify the proposed school levy for the 2017-2018 school year on Wednesday, Oct. 25. The vote was conducted at a special meeting held in the high school library.

The levy came to a total of $9,716,975, which is a decrease of 3.69 percent from last year's levy. The levy was comprised of $6,945,697 for general school purposes, $2,231,475 for debt service, $329,803 for non-referendum debt and $210,000 for community service.

Supt. Barry Cain said that with this levy, local taxpayers will see their taxes go down by $358,296 this year.

Taxpayers will also see a .83 decrease in this year's mill rate. "In other words, the average local taxpayer will see a decrease of $83 per $100,000 value of their home," Cain said. The superintendent said this mill rate decrease is due to property value increases.

The 2017-2018 mill rate is lower than what it was prior to the new elementary school being built in the 2015-2016 school year.

The school district received $202,539 less in equalized state general aid than it did in the 2016-2017 school year. Cain said the district's declining enrollment played a large factor in the general aid decrease. Cain added that the state did not add any money to the general aid pool this year.

"When you see less general aid, it gets pushed to the local taxpayers instead of the state picking it up," Cain said. He also added that the district can expect to see an even more substantial drop in aid next year due to being down another 16 students this school year.

However, there was a hefty increase in other revenue from last year's $772,216 to this year's $1,052,564, which Cain explained is due to the legislature approving an additional $200 per student funding.

No money was added to the state revenue cap, and because of Ellsworth's declining enrollment over the last three-year average along with increased property values in the community, the district's revenue cap decreased by nearly $100,000.

"We're one of the lowest revenue cap dollars per student available in the state," Cain said. "So, the money is not there.

"We live in an area that's seeing property value increases and enrollment decreases," Cain said. "The state looks at that and says, 'The more property wealth per student you have, the more the local taxpayers should be able to pay for the schools.'"

Other business

Cain also alerted the board that the potential buyer of the Lindgren Early Learning Center property has rescinded their offer.

Another offer was considered by the Lindgren property's committee at one point in time, and the realtor has reached out to that party to see if their offer still stands.

Cain told the board that he would present them with updates as the process moves along.